— Ben Kweller on his *really* bloody nose that caused his set to be late and the paramedics to stop it early.
It is that time of year again where 65,000 people cram into Zilker Park here in Austin, Texas for a great festival call The Austin City Limits Music Festival. I’ll try and put some of my notes and thoughts along with this small writeup.
I took friday off from work so I could get down there early. deadboy and the Elephantmen were playing at 2:30 and I had heard good things so I wanted to check them out. Unfortunatly TxDOT decided it was a good idea to close a lane on the highway and repave an off ramp. I was stuck in traffic for 45 minutes and with parking, walking to the gate, getting my wristband and getting practically anally probed by security I missed their set. Bummer. We had a group camped out to see Gnarles Barkley so I made the first real tacticle mistake- I failed to catch Stars. I have now heard the set (it was broadcast on XMU on XM Radio) and I should have walked over to see them. Gnarles Barkley put on a great show, highly recomended. They played a few things off their new album and a bunch of covers of old school songs with a really new twist. I was able to catch most of Gomez- another great show. This is when I made the *2nd* mistake. I left Gomez a bit early so I could grab some food and get back to the home base. Yeah. The lines were at least an hour long. Every. Last. One of them. No food for me. Thievery Corporation was next. This is the 2nd time I have seen them and they get better every year. They were in town on Thursday night and put on a show that others said was better than ACL, but I was blown away. I really needed food at this point. So I braved the lines, which were a touch shorter now, but not much. The layout of Zilker is pretty cool, pretty much three stages are always live (of the main 5 stages). One of these faces the food court. The Tragically Hip were playing on that stage while I was waiting for my spicy chicken wrap and venison wrap. Although I could not really watch them I heard them clearly. Pretty cool stuff. Then off to the main event for me. No, not John Mayer. I picked Van Morrison over that lull-fest. Van Morrison put on a great set, he played for almost two hours. Good stuff and I am glad to see him, because I will probably never get the chance again.
Saturday was dubbed “Seperation Saturday” by the football analysts. Seven top 25 matchups and I was going to be sitting under a tree in Zilker Park. Oh well. Cell phones are a wonderful thing and we were able to get scores most of the day. Despite SMS Google claiming to do NCAA sports- it turns out they only do NCAA Basketball. Bummer there too. I made it down to see the first act I wanted to see: Murder by Death. Pretty good stuff, I had not heard most of their music and I was impressed. Phoenix was next. They are in my top 5 acts this year. I’ll definatly going to have to get some of their music. About 1/2 way through their set I figured out I was woozy. Yeah, 95 and sun bearing down and I was done. Time to head back to the safety of the shade tree. I hung out there for Ben Kweller and his bloody nose- a shame too he really wanted to play. He even stuck a tampon up his nose- I shit you not- to try and stem the bleeding. The Shins were next, very good afternoon band. I was able to lean back and just enjoy the set. The crowd really started to pack in because in an hours time Jack White and his new band The Raconteures were on. No point in moving now. That was a pretty good show as well- very Jack White, go figure. Iron and Wine were playing the opposite stage after them so a few of us popped up to catch a few of their songs. Very cool, another band to get the album for. The main headliner for me was Massive Attack. Most people checked out Willie Nelson, but that is not for me. Massive Attack was pretty cool- but after about 45 minutes I was done. Back to the truck and back up north to get a bit of dinner and off to bed.
My goal for Sunday was to catch 3 main acts. The day started with poaring rain as I got on the highway to drive to Zilker. It had stopped by the time I parked, but a text message confirmed that a few of my friends were there and were drenched. I got to the homebase in time to catch 1/2 of The Stills. It would have been nice to see the whole set, they sounded pretty good. The first of the three acts I wanted to catch was up next. KT Tunstall is great, she put on a great set and the crowd really enjoyed it. I then set off to get a bandana (more rain was predicted) and some grub. This time a BBQ sandwich from Stubb’s. I had to fight a huge crowd to get back to base for the next main stage show- Matisyahu. He put on one of the highlight shows of the festival. I’d love to catch him in a smaller venue- next time he comes to town I guess. I then tried to watch The New Pornographers but could not even get to the center to hear them. Sun Volt was playing at the same time and that would have been a better choise. Apparently ACL put a bunch of cash-n-carry one day tickets on sale for Sunday. I think this was because of the rain. But it really didn’t rain during the day so there were several thousand extra people milling around. It was *packed*. Back to the main stage to catch the last of the must-sees: The Flaming Lips. What a truly visually fantastic show. With bubble boy crowd surfing, the air-cannons full of confetti, the gaggle of alien women dancing, and the lead singer donning fake blood as a tribute to Ben Kweller, it was just nuts. Pretty good set as well, but his monologes between songs were a bit preachy. I came to see music not listen to politcal speeches. Tom Petty was the headliner of the entire festival and lightning could be seen as he started his act. We hung out for 4 songs then started out. The rain started before we even got to the gate and it was a wet trek back to the truck. I heard on the radio this morning that they did a 30 minute delay in the set, but that he came back out to do an extended set. That was cool of him, even though I wasn’t there to see it.
All-in-all it was a great time with fantasic music, great food, a pretty cool venue, and the weather held pretty well being in the low to mid 90s. Even if I did miss a bunch of football. I’ll be back next year, that is for sure.